January: Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January is officially Human Trafficking Awareness month. I think it's about time we talk about this worldwide problem. You may of heard about human trafficking in your latest episode of Law and Order: SVU, but do you really know what it is and how many people are affected by it? Probably not, but that's okay. That is what this article is here for, to help teach and spread awareness. 

Human trafficking is the process of buying, selling or trading humans. It is when a person regardless of their age or gender is taken and either is forced into labor or sexual exploitation. Human trafficking doesn't target one specific demographic of people. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims globally, 26% of them being children and 55% of them being women. 

People have started to take the initiative and fight back against human traffickers in the last decade. Organizations like The Polaris Project and Airline Ambassadors International are taking strides to end modern day slavery. The Polaris Project is a non-profit that works directly with victims and runs The National Human Trafficking Resource Center, which is the main hotline for human trafficking. If you are in the United States and are in trouble or see something suspicious that might be related to human trafficking call The Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1 (888) 373-7888 or text "HELP" or "INFO" to 233733 (BeeFree). Find more information on their website. Here is The Polaris Project's map of human trafficking happening in The United States.

Another big force in human trafficking prevention is Airline Ambassadors. AAI is the only airline-industry specific non-profit group that provides Human Trafficking Awareness Training to employees at airports around the world.  These trainings, offered by airline volunteers and victims, teach pilots, flight attendants, ticket agents and ground personal how to identify and report the problem. Airline Ambassadors works closely with border patrol and the Department of Homeland Security.  Since 2009, AAI has helped save hundreds of children!  For more information, please go to www.airlineamb.org

Big events like the Superbowel are places where a lot of human trafficking happens. At last year's Super Bowl in San Francisco Airline Ambassadors International saved children from human trafficking; they have trainings scheduled this week to prepare people in Houston for Super Bowl 51. People often use their wealth or fame to lure their victims. In some instances traffickers create fake modeling agencies or job ads that are really just ploys to capture unsuspecting targets.

 The more people that become aware of this issue, the more we can do to stop it. Take some time to spread awareness and make sure that you are protecting yourself from dangers of human trafficking. It could happen to anyone.